April 2021 CAQ Raku Experience
Brisbane Visual Arts Community (BVAC) invited CAQ to their Open Day in April this year to demonstrate the raku experience.
As usual, crowds were drawn to fire, and the day was a rip-roaring success!
Participants selected a bisqued pot to glaze in white crackle inside and copper lustre outside as a contrast to show up the beautiful colours. The pots were waxed top and bottom, so we were able to stack them on top of each other in the kiln for greater efficiency. The kiln filled quickly with eager expectations.
The gas burners fired up, taking around 45 minutes for the glaze to mature, evident when the surface appears shiny and the pots are glowing red hot.
The participants were welcome to wander off, however the majority lingered while we explained what to expect (and not!).
One of the exciting aspects of raku firing is that the pots are removed from the kiln glowing red hot with tongs and placed in a reduction atmosphere in metal bins with tight lids. Newspaper and sawdust is placed inside the bins to create heavy smoky conditions. This blackens any raw clay and causes crazing in the glaze surface, allowing smoke to creep in the cracks.
After 10 minutes in the bins, we fished for the pieces through the smoke to a display of awe and amazement. No two piece looks the same; the position of the pieces in the kiln; how hot it was when removed; where it was placed in the reduction bin, and how much smoke it was exposed to, are all are factors determining the outcome.
When the pots were cooled, they got a good scrub in soapy water bringing out the beautiful colours, and showing the evidence of smoke and fire.
A few inevitable breakages along the way only adds to the discussion of the Japanese art of Kintsugi, whereby the piece is repaired with natural lacquers and gold powder sprinkled along the join embracing the flaws and imperfections, creating an even stronger, more beautiful piece.
By Kirstin Farr
CAQ Board Member